Covering Up in the Cold: Tips on Working Outside in Frigid Weather
For most of the year, the South doesn’t experience overly cold, below freezing temperatures. That makes it generally safe to work outside. However, we occasionally see temperatures go below 32 degrees. That’s cold! And it can be bad news for people who work outside.
Whether you work on construction, roads, grounds, or other outside work, you need to protect yourself during freezing weather. Here are some tips that will help prevent serious medical conditions like frostbite and hypothermia while also making your work outside in the cold more comfortable.
Protect your head, hands, neck, and feet.
The ends of your body are the most exposed to the cold. That’s why it’s essential to wear a hat, gloves, scarf (or a jacket with a high collar), heavy socks, and thick waterproof boots. These items need to be high-quality and thick enough to protect you from cold weather for a good stretch of time. Without these items, you’re much more likely to get frostbite or hypothermia. If any of these clothing items prevent you from doing your job, then make sure you only expose your head, hands, neck, or feet for short lengths of time.
Avoid staying out in cold weather for long periods of time.
Even a hat, gloves, socks, and boots will only protect you so long. Eventually, the cold will creep in and you will start to feel numbness in your face, hands, and feet. Only work outside in cold weather for a limited period of time before getting warm again. If that means you need to take frequent breaks, then take frequent breaks. Get inside a warm building or even a warm vehicle if you don’t have access to a building.
Adjust work schedules based on the weather.
You may not have control over your work schedule, but talk to your boss or foreman about any weather concerns. During the day, you may want to do the most outside work when it’s warmest (usually around mid-afternoon). If the weather is really cold, then you may want to suggest delaying certain outside tasks until the weather warms up. Unlike the North, the South usually only has a few days of cold weather before it warms up again. If you can wait in order to work in a warmer, healthier environment, then wait.
Eat high-calorie foods, stay hydrated, and avoid caffeine.
Your body stays warmer depending on the food and drink you give it. Eat high calorie food like nuts, whole grains (like pasta), eggs, and meat. Drink either water or non-carbonated flavored drinks like vitamin water or a sports drink. Avoid caffeine—it will dehydrate you and make you colder.
Don’t overwork yourself.
You might think that working extra hard will warm you up and keep your mind off the cold. Be careful that you don’t get too tired. When you’re tired, your body produces less energy—energy that keeps you warm. Again, take frequent breaks in a warm place, stay hydrated, and eat during the day so that you don’t get too tired and lose energy. If you have a medical condition or you’re older, you need to be especially careful about exhausting yourself too quickly in the cold.
If you apply the above tips, then you should be much safer when working outside in cold weather. Remember, if you do feel numb, shivery, or unusually exhausted while working in cold weather, take a break immediately and seek medical attention if you don’t feel better.
Have you had to seek medical attention because of unsafe conditions working outside in cold weather? Call us today for a free consultation.